Over a decade after he delivered his inaugural address as the 15th president of the republic, the nation remembers the pronouncements of Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III.
Without corruption, there is no poverty: “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” The people are his boss: “Kayo ang boss ko.” No more wang-wang or VIP sirens and blinkers. “No more influence-peddling, no more patronage politics, no more stealing. No more sirens, no more short cuts, no more bribes.”
It was an ambitious to-do list, in a country where democratic institutions have been dysfunctional for decades. But one must set lofty goals at the start of one’s administration. On his personal performance, yesterday’s tributes indicate that Noynoy Aquino delivered on his inaugural promise: “I will set the example. I will strive to be a good model. I will not break the trust you have placed in me.”
No administration is perfect. Still, for all the criticisms hurled against his administration, the lapses both real and imagined, and the scandals including issues involving corruption attributed to his officials and political allies, Noynoy Aquino would have done his parents, democracy icons Ninoy and Cory Aquino, proud.
In the family’s formal announcement of his death yesterday, his bereaved sisters declared of their only brother: “Mission accomplished.” Noynoy Aquino set the bar high for good governance and integrity in public service. History will judge how much of his inaugural goals he managed to achieve. But with his death, the nation remembers not only his accomplishments, but also the objectives whose attainment remains a work in progress. Noynoy Aquino’s death should inspire a renewed commitment to the attainment of those goals, even as the nation mourns his passing.